Customer Success outside of work

Outside of work I often get asked about how the principles of customer success could be applied to a house of worship, a nonprofit, or even to a family.

Many rules for customer success can be applied to a tribe-like community. Growing a flock of worshippers/devotees and increasing donations is similar to increasing the number of customers and growing sales.

Preventing churn is another goal which is critical to community-building efforts. You can’t build a tribe if no one wants to stay. It’s particularly hard because paychecks can’t be used to bribe commitments. Purpose is the glue holding your tribe together. And it better be strong.

The onboarding experience, the member journey and continuous surveying are critical to elevating quality of experience.

What truly separates the community-oriented approach of a tribe from a business approach is a high-touch experience. Those qualities which are hard to measure such as kindness, support, presence and personal growth foster a sense of belonging. The tribe becomes family. It certainly can’t be run like a business.

Tribes (link) grow into  movements by maintaining high-touch experiences. They also create high-tech experiences — connecting their communities across multiple channels so more people can help each other. It’s astonishing how little tech is used in the purpose-driven world (outside of work).

In the do-good world, there is an emphasis on a charismatic leader with a strong personal brand to attract followers. In the same way startups and businesses don’t depend on a single leader to drive growth, the founder of a nonprofit or house of worship should get less branding in the world outside work.

Gurus and spiritual masters make a huge difference, but the idea that one mastermind should be the single brand of truth is not resonating in a world driven by multiple means to find personal fulfillment. Everyone is seeking to build their brand. Their livelihood depends on it. The noble gurus who stand out seem to empower and delegate behind the scenes. They don’t seek rewards like Nobel Prizes or chase celebrities.

As much as customer success is about helping customers learn to help themselves, the realm of tribes (like those created by nonprofits, churches, and temples) is about a collective effort to advance personal journeys.

The customer and personal journeys get cut short when egos get in the way or leadership agendas point toward a bottom line (i.e., focus on growth at all costs) at the expense of fostering authentic relationships and taking care of customers. At this point nonprofits and houses of worships turn into businesses and the ‘success champions’ function like CEOs. The hard sell begins when empathy is lost. When there isn’t a paycheck to ensure attendance, the flock may run away when worship or service becomes an added invoice, not a hug.

Customer success is really about fostering empathy (link) and a sense of community regardless of the mission. The boundaries will continue to blur between work and passion projects that fuel success beyond work.